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Jack and Kay Walsh are typical of many couples of the 1940s, where he is the breadwinner and she the housewife dependent upon him to do the man's duties around the house. Jack believes one of their neighbors in the housing complex in which they live in Los Angeles is white trash - he letting her know so at every opportunity, while Kay is quietly curious about her. That neighbor is streetwise Hazel Zanussi, an aspiring singer who does get a chance to sing on occasion at the club managed by her casual boyfriend, Biscuits Toohey, although he relegates her to being one of the taxi dancers more often against her wants, while he cheats on her behind her back despite truly having feelings for her. Hazel just wants to make an honest living. Their worlds are turned upside down on December 7, 1941 when the US enters WWII with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jack immediately enlists in the Navy, and while he will send money home, his decision leaves Kay largely to fend for herself. Against...Written by
When Jack comes home in 1944 he is wearing the rating badge of a Machinist's Mate 2nd Class, correctly on his left sleeve. He is also wearing ribbons for the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (the highest non-combat heroism award), The American Defense Service Medal (incorrectly) and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. See more »
When he comes home, Jack is wearing the ribbon for the American Defense Service Medal, which is incorrect because he enlisted after Pearl Harbor, and that medal is for those on active duty From September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941. See more »
Each returning serviceman will get his job back when the war is won. And you girls and women, you'll be going home. Back to being housewives and mothers as you promised to do when you came to work with us. Your lives will return to normal.
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Opening credits are shown over old, black and white photos. See more »
I really did like this movie. There's a lot to like. It's the beginning of World War II, and all the men are being called to the Army. Goldie Hawn and Ed Harris are a typical American couple thus pulled apart. Goldie gets a Rosie the Riveter job, where she meets Kurt Russel, a 4F plant foreman, and the rest is history.
Swing Shift was directed by Jonathan Demme, of Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia fame, and if this one is a little lighter, it was also a lot earlier in his career. Holly Hunter appears in a very small supporting role, but gives it her star-quality best. Christine Lahti is magnificent as the single neighbor who befriends Goldie at the factory even though she and her husband were cruel to her before the war changed everyone's lives. Fred Ward was already becoming old hat, but he, like the rest of the film, ends up being likeable and thoroughly enjoyable.
Hawn and Russell met on the set and have been together ever since. Maybe the excitement of their real-life romance drained the spark from their on-screen version. This could have been a really moving story of a woman who falls in love while her husband is off to war, but ends up showing us a couple of bump-buddies killing time till their real lives resume. Perhaps that was the point.
Ed Harris is perfectly cast as the common man trying to keep his marriage together in the face of all that life throws in its way. There is a famous scene, in which Ed, wearing nothing but a bath towel, plops into a floppy chair with a cold beer. The resulting bounce proves that Harris is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and explains why this charming little tale will never be on DVD.
Swing Shift is a nice period piece, and provides an amusing, if not entirely accurate, view of the tumultous years in the middle of the last century when the entire world went to war.
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